KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 – Administrators at Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital (HRPB) sought RM6.5 million funding from the federal government last April for various upgrade works, especially for the hospital’s strained emergency unit, according to a state representative.
Perak state executive councillor in charge of health A. Sivanesan – who visited HRPB’s emergency and trauma department (ETD) today following CodeBlue’s report on critically ill patients being stranded there for up to six days for ward admission – said both the state and federal governments will require time and funding to resolve overcrowding issues at the Ipoh general hospital.
“I have carefully studied all 24 pages of the online article. What was written in the article is to our knowledge and we’ve taken measures to address them. The flaws highlighted in the article apply to all hospitals, whether they are public or private – the congestion is the same,” Sivanesan told reporters in Ipoh, Perak, here today.
CodeBlue obtained an audio recording of his press conference.
“What we are exploring now are steps we should take to curb these issues. I have discussed this with the Perak health director, HRPB’s director, and the health minister and they have all agreed to solve this problem as soon as possible.
“But we cannot solve this problem overnight. We need a bit of time and additional budget from the federal government. The hospital, in April this year, had submitted a request for a budget, which included reasons and evidence for extra funding.”
The Star reported Sivanesan as saying that HRPB had requested RM6.5 million for upgrades and expansion work.
“Former state health director Datuk Dr Ding Lay Ming told me former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin saw the need to upgrade the emergency and trauma unit during his visit in April,” Sivanesan was quoted saying.
“If we can get this allocation, a big portion of the issues can be resolved.”
Sivanesan said no government hospitals have turned patients away without treatment, causing severe congestion in the ETDs across all public hospitals.
“We have to treat them somehow; we cannot deny them,” he said.
The state exco further attributed the cause of overcrowding at public hospitals, particularly HRPB, to not being able to anticipate patient arrivals.
“We cannot anticipate the number of patients that will be coming in. We don’t know if there will be a disaster tonight, a bus accident, for example, and all of a sudden there are 40 people who need care and the emergency department is full.
“What should we do? Do we send them back? We have to treat them,” Sivanesan said.
“I don’t see cases of medical negligence in government hospitals. That is a very, very good sign. As a lawyer, I’ve handled medical negligence cases. But this is a good sign. That means our doctors are efficient, or perhaps, even more efficient with the different pressures they face, day and night, they are willing to make a sacrifice.
“These are the same doctors who were frontliners during the Covid pandemic. Some doctors and supporting staff died providing treatment to the public.”
CodeBlue reported yesterday that critically ill patients, including those on ventilator support, are stranded in HRPB’s emergency department for up to six days for ward admission, due to insufficient critical care beds and staff like doctors and nurses.
Most of the severely sick patients coming to the ETD this year, HRPB doctors said, are presenting with advanced chronic conditions like heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke, following disrupted care during two years of Covid lockdowns.
At least two patients died in general medical wards in the Ministry of Health (MOH) hospital after waiting days in the ETD for ward admission, including a 42-year-old woman who died last October 16 after four days’ stranding and an 81-year-old woman who died last July 9 after waiting in the emergency department for more than five days.
Separately, in Kuala Lumpur, Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni said he was informed that Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa would contact HRPB management.
“By today, I think we will get the briefing from the minister,” Lukanisman told CodeBlue, when approached at the sidelines of the Universal Health Coverage Day Malaysia 2022 forum organised by NCD Malaysia.
Universiti Malaya infectious disease expert Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman tweeted yesterday that she believed the crisis at HRPB’s emergency department is also happening across all major hospitals, including Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).